Remarks from the Chief Public Health Officer on COVID-19, January 5, 2021


There have been 611,424 cases of COVID-19 in Canada, including 16,074 deaths. Nationally, there are almost 77,500 active cases across the country and the average case count is close to 7,500 new cases being reported daily over the past week. The number of people experiencing severe illness continues to increase. Over the past 7 days, there were on average over 4,000 individuals with COVID-19 being treated in Canadian hospitals, including over 770 in critical care and an average of 122 deaths were reported each day. Canada is also monitoring the emergence of COVID-19 virus variants that appear to be associated with an increased risk of spread. To date in Canada, there have been 9 cases of a variant virus first reported in the United Kingdom [ON 6; AB 1; BC 1; QC 1] and no reports of other variants of concern, including a variant first reported in South Africa.

While there is a lot to look forward to as 2021 begins, we must also proceed with a full understanding of the difficult task ahead. Two weeks ago, Canada had just exceeded 500,000 cases of COVID-19. Now, with the current momentum of the epidemic and continued high rates of infection in many areas of the country, the 5 months it took to reach our first 100,000 cases has now shortened to just over 2 weeks for the latest 100,000 case increase. This ever more rapid accumulation of cases will continue until we can make significant progress in interrupting spread, which is why we must all continue our efforts.

Our main task this year is to stay the course with public health practices, as the rollout of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines proceeds across Canada and around the world. We have learned a lot about how to limit the spread of COVID-19 over the past year, with ample evidence to show that early, strong and sustained public health measures are key for controlling the spread of COVID-19. And we know that, whatever the combination of measures and restrictions, there is one vital factor underlying their success and that is us. When it comes to stopping the spread of this virus, public health measures are only as effective as our collective efforts and resolve to see things through. The behaviour and choices made by each and everyone of us matter a great deal.

As our access to safe and effective vaccines expands, let’s resolve to continue supporting each other. 2020 was an unbelievably difficult year but Canadians have made remarkable achievements all along the way - as individuals, as a country and as part of the world united against COVID-19

To be sure, there will be challenges ahead but we have shown we have the strength and resilience to continue through this next chapter and see things through for a more hopeful 2021. Let’s not forget the things we’ve experienced, learned and rediscovered that will be important to hold on to as we go forward. Among them, the memories of those we’ve lost and a renewed understanding that none us can have health unless all of us are cared for and supported.  

Read my CPHO backgrounder to access more COVID-19 Information and Resources on ways to reduce the risks and protect yourself and others.

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